| I had wanted to take a Cruise for some time,
but Beh has been unable to get a green card from the INS yet, and we were
unable to go. She also had wanted to take some time off, so I decided
to see if I could go without her. I asked Diann, who has traveled
with us before, and Daisey, my night helper, if they would like to go.
Both jumped at the chance.
On the Internet, I found that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean sailed from Galveston. The Rhapsody of the Seas sailed every Sunday for Key West, Grand Cayman Island, and Cozumel. The lowest fares were in April and September. Since September is in the hurricane season, I hurried to reserve a disabled room for April 28th through May 5th.
| I booked 2025I (second level). Then
I called the disabled Coordinator, Charles. He immediately upgraded
our room to 8010C (eighth level-bridge
deck). A designates the Royal Suite. B designates company suites.
And C designates staterooms. We were on the outside with sliding
glass door access to a private balcony.
It was harder to book shore excursions. Disabled access information was sketchy, and Charles was little help. After much reading and discussion, I booked shore excursions for all three destinations.
|Day 1|| I had to make a checklist;
there were so many things that I had to be sure to take along. Beh
anticipated everything and had me packed by the night before. She
filled my portable wheelchair with items like battery chargers, a cushion,
and other essentials. At 11:00am she drove to Daisey's house and
picked her up. I then drove Daisey to TSU where we picked up Diann
When we got to the terminal in Galveston, our ship was an impressive sight. We dropped Diann with the luggage and parked in a city lot two blocks away. It cost $60 for one-month storage. Then Daisey and I took a bus back to the ship. After some confusion with the upgrade, we found our room. It was large and spacious and had the best disabled bathroom I've seen. Soon, we were called to muster on the fifth level. They tied my life vest around my wheelchair so that if I went in the drink, I would be sure sink to the bottom swiftly. We explored the ship and went to get something to eat. The cafeteria was closed, but the ship got underway so we watched us leave. Only half of our luggage arrived and some had been taken from the wheelchair so I got worried we would lose something.
We were supposed to have the first seating for dinner at 6:30pm. However, my room pass showed second seating. We were hungry, so we went to dinner.
| The headwaiter graciously found us very bad
seating in the aisle. I requested better seating, and, after two
changes, we found ourselves with two older couples and a sea view that
was wonderful. Bob and Alice were from
Appleton, Wisconsin, but left long ago and now reside in Austin.
and Faye were also from Austin. He was a state entomologist and
worked with Harris County for many years to control mosquitoes.
After dinner we continued to explore the ship. When we got back to the room about 10:30pm our missing luggage had still not arrived. I called. They had delivered my portable chair to the room on the second level. After everything was accounted for, we went to bed.
Hot Pool in the Spa
Sunning in the Egyption Spa
Enjoying the Hot Tub
|Day 2|| We found the Windjammer Cafeteria bathed in
sunlight and a Cornucopia of food. We were in the shipping lanes
and saw many ships and offshore platforms. By noon, we were out by
the pool. There was a steel
drum band playing and every once in awhile; they had games by the pool.
Many people were reading. I decided that I would bring my books out
and give them to readers by the pool and Egyptian
The day went quickly as we got familiar with everything on board. After dinner, we found a quartet and cabaret singers in the Grand Lobby, a piano singer in the Schooner Bar, and karaoke in the Shall We Dance Lounge. We had missed the show on the first night, so Daisey and I caught the late show, Mardi Gras Around the World in the Broadway Melodies Theater. The singers and dancers were wonderful. After the show we checked out the discotheque, but it wasn't underway yet. We skipped the midnight buffet and all night activities and went to bed.
Rhapsody Pool Deck
|Day 3|| The next morning while having breakfast overlooking
the bow, we saw dolphins momentarily racing the ship. One passenger told
us that 40 or 50 of them accompanied us leaving Galveston. I talked
to readers and passed out some books while we eagerly awaited our arrival
at Key West (Please
open to get the flavor). On our way in, in the narrow channel, we passed
two cruise ships coming out, so we had the small dock to ourselves.
It was already 3:00pm when we arrived, so we rushed out of the boat, trying to connect with our tour. After walking two blocks, we asked a woman where the Mel Fisher Museum was, and she kindly directed us to it. The Mel Fisher Museum was in an old Navy barracks, so I had to go around the building to enter a ramp through the gift shop. After a mix-up with the tickets, we finally joined our tour. Mel Fisher, a man of many occupations, band leader and adventurer, found the Nuestra Senora de la Atocha, a Spanish galleon, from records and a lot of searching the reefs west of Key West. He first found the hull of the wreck in 1985 where the record said he would. The Atocha had been sunk in a hurricane in shallow water. A few years later, another hurricane pushed the wreckage 7.5 miles west. It was 1995 before the entire ship had been located, scattered over 50 miles of sea floor. Fisher died in 1998. They're still bringing up artifacts and treasure.
The Ochoa contained emeralds, gold bars, silver ingots, cannons, and many artifacts from Central and South America. The treasure is worth millions and something to see.
With Daisey in a Park for
Key West Sunset
| Daisey wanted to see Ernest Hemingway's house, but
it was too late, so we walked around the gift shops and attractions instead.
Daisey and I took a walk past Truman's Key West White House. It was
beautiful passing flower draped cottages in the evening. We returned along
Duval Street's strip of restaurants and nightspots alive with revelers.
Daisey cringed at the idea of having her picture taken with a yellow boa
Diann waited for us in Mallory Square. We got a drink and talked to a German tourist while we watched the sun set. The Square had bands, glass and fire walkers, fire eaters, jugglers, a statue lady that only moved when someone gave her money, and Dominique, a wild and crazy guy who made his cats jump through too-small loops, paper covered hoops, and hoops set on fire. A lot of wild cats (and chickens) hung around-- maybe to get in the act. Diann was fascinated by the white statue lady.
Back on board, we grabbed a hamburger, and went to the early show. The singers and dancers performed old favorites from the Swing Era to delight of the mostly retired crowd. We were beat, so we retired early and the ship left for our next destination.
Rhapsody in Lights
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